Last week, Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray announced that the state will receive an additional $300,000 in tornado recovery aid.
This additional funding will certainly help the state recover from natural disaster that was, for all practical purposes, very much out of place.
Last year, June 1, 2011, many residents were left baffled and homeless when the areas of western and central Massachusetts were hit by two Massachusetts twisters. The two twisters combined killed a total of four people and demolished more than 200 homes and businesses.
The tragedy the left many residents asking, How could this happen?
Bob Horacek, a landlord in Monson, MA told the New York Times, “This happens in Missouri .This happens in Kansas. This doesn’t happen in Massachusetts. And it certainly doesn’t happen in Monson.”
The Odd Massachusetts Twisters
The town of Monson was one of the hardest hit by the tornadoes. In all, 19 communities were affected by the unusual weather. Residents were quoted by several different media outlets as saying, “I barely made it out alive”, or describing the aftermath as a “war zone.”
However, many residents want to know, how can this happen in Massachusetts?
Almost immediately after the news of the tornadoes broke, the web exploded with theories on why the state was plagued with such unusual weather. Messages were posted on discussion boards, comment sections of articles, and anywhere else.
Topping the list of theories was man-made climate change. This theory is highly debatable. On the overall idea that climate change directly affects tornadoes, Carbonbrief.org reports:
“Tornadoes need two things to form: warm moist air, and high ‘wind shear’ which causes the air to rotate. A key 2007 study used climate models to project that whilst the number of warm, moist days is likely to increase with man-made climate change, wind shear will probably decrease. So at the moment it’s not clear if a warmer climate means more or less tornado activity.”
A close second was the theory of weather modification. Once again, the idea of a weather weapon was theorized as the culprit. This also gained some popularity with the Joplin, MO tornadoes that occurred around the same time as the ones in Massachusetts.
Then the question was raised that if tornadoes can be created, why can’t they be stopped? Most scientists agree that weather modification with any discernible predictable outcome is nearly impossible. Finally, a close third on the list of theories of why tornados tore through Massachusetts was “end times”.
Yes, the End times; Armageddon. (I will not delve any further into the idea of tornados in Massachusetts as a signal to the end times. Use your imagination as to how people came up with this one…)
What Does Science Say About the Massachusetts Twisters?
With all of these theories running rampant across the web, what does science believe to be the cause of the unusual weather in the state?
Mostly, scientists believe the Massachusetts twisters are simply a natural phenomenon.
According to the Tornado History Project, from 1951 through 2008, 152 tornados have been recorded in the state of Massachusetts. Therefore, the June 1, 2011 pair of tornadoes was not the first to hit the state.
Meteorologists told the Christian Science Monitor that atmospheric conditions were very favorable to tornadic activity. Charlie Foley, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Taunton, Mass., told the New York Times, “New England sees, on average, two or three tornadoes per year.”
He went on to say, “They are rare, but not unique.”
So what it boils down to is that the mysterious tornados were really not all that mysterious. They are simply just rare.
What is important is the fact that thousands of people were impacted by this natural disaster. At least the $300,000 in additional aid will help the residents Massachusetts to recover from the tragedy.